The French, Russian, and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group that seeks to mediate a political solution to the Karabakh conflict have modified the so-called Madrid Principles intended to serve as the basis for such an agreement, U.S. co-Chairman Matthew Bryza told RFE/RL's Armenian Service
on July 27 following two days of consultations in Krakow with his fellow co-chairs.
In a statement issued on July 10 on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit in L'Aquila, the presidents of France, Russia, and the United States tasked the co-chairs with preparing for presentation to the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents "an updated version of the Madrid Document of November 2007, the co-chairs' last articulation of the Basic Principles" first unveiled in June 2006.
That L'Aquila statement "urge[d] the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to resolve the few differences remaining between them and finalize their agreement on these Basic Principles, which will outline a comprehensive settlement" of the conflict.
But discrepancies between the summary of the principles outlined in that statement and the original Basic Principles triggered protest
and alarm in Armenia, especially among major opposition parties. Meeting on July 17-18 in Moscow, Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev apparently failed to narrow the outstanding differences between them.
Bryza told RFE/RL on July 27 that the Krakow talks were "productive and creative," and that the three co-chairs have indeed "prepared an updated version of the Madrid Document" based on "careful" consideration of the views expressed by the sides since the unveiling of the Madrid Document in November 2007.
In that context, Bryza specifically praised the input provided by former Armenian President Robert Kocharian and former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, whose "thoughts and efforts helped lay the foundation for the Madrid Document." Bryza said their successors, President Sarkisian and current Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian, "have helped elicit progress in tough but constructive negotiations over the past year."
The co-chairs are scheduled to travel to Armenia and Azerbaijan in August-September in the hope of paving the way for a meeting between Aliyev and Sarkisian on the sidelines of the CIS summit to be held in Chisinau.